Parenting SPM/MM

Dear Fellow Mom Who Was Neglecting Her Kids

I wish I could have talked to you, fellow mom who was neglecting her kids. Had I been able to, this is what I would have said.

Dear Fellow Mom:

As I sit and write this I am shaky from the encounter I had with your children. You are not aware of the encounter or of me really. You were asleep. And when you were awoken it was by a cop and not me. I am the lady who kept your children safe during your nap. I hope you are well rested. I, myself, foresee a night of restlessness as I worry about what becomes of your children.

Let me breakdown the meeting for you. I was playing with my two daughters in the backyard. I heard glass breaking and saw your oldest throwing glass down from the deck. My heart sank.

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I looked again and saw that there were 4 other children at the bottom of the deck. Two of the children were buck naked. The two remaining children were in diapers that were in serious need of being changed. I stood there a moment, sure that you would come out and we could laugh about how crazy things can get with kids, especially five — I can’t imagine.

You did not come out. More glass was dropped. I ran over, knowing that the children were barefoot and by now there were many shards of glass surrounding them. The oldest who was maybe 5 came down and said he would clean up. He proceeded to get a mop and brush some of the glass into the grass. I convinced him to stop and ask for an adult. He said you were sleeping. I questioned more of the children.

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Three of them were unable to talk much or at least to give the information that I was requesting. The other one that did talk concurred that you were, in fact, sleeping. I asked if he could wake you up. He said no, he didn’t want to get in trouble. That you would spank him and put him in the froggy room. I don’t know what that means — “the froggy room.” I was curious and would have liked to ask had you been able to make the time in your schedule.

At this point I asked my husband to go knock and ring the doorbell. He did and no one came. He called the police.

Up to this point I have not mentioned the door was open to your basement. I saw the mess. I saw the disarray. I try not to judge that sort of thing because you know what they say about those in glass houses. Then I looked at one of the naked little boys that was running around and saw that he had shit himself. There was shit down his back and legs. It was dry. Ma’am, he had been in that state for more than mere minutes. And you slept. The oldest looked at me and said, “We go to the bathroom on a toilet.” I found this odd because that is typically something commonplace that we don’t need to tell each other. I would have laughed with you about how children’s minds work, but I think we both know that something isn’t right in your home.

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I convinced the children to stay together as well as I could. One child who I am guessing might be 3 was running around with a hard block of uncooked Ramen Noodles, eating it and telling me it was spaghetti. Toddlers have odd tastes in cuisine, and had it not been for the other circumstances…I could have laughed with you.

Two of your sons cut their feet on the glass. As much as I tried to keep the five children in order, they escaped me. One of the diapered ones took off up the deck stairs of another neighbor’s house and I chased after. Funny enough, during all of this I was conscious of not putting hands on your children lest you think I was crossing a line. I could laugh at myself right now for thinking that when you have so little regard for their safety. That touch to steady them down the stairs may be the most loving touch they have received in all their time on earth.

I offered the two injured boys Band-Aids. I have two daughters and all we have are princess ones. I asked if they minded. They did not. They only wanted to come in my house. They were fascinated with asking questions about my house and talking to me.

I bandaged your babies’ feet. I called your sweet children “honey” and “babe” as I tried my best to care for them until the cop showed up.

When the cop came, the 3 year old referred to the cop as “honey” just like I had called him. Another thing we could have laughed together about if it were not for the circumstances. He said to the cop, “Honey, is that your mustache?” The cop had a mustache on his face, and although it looked like it was attached, I suppose it is always pertinent to verify.

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The cop tried to wake you, pounding on the door. He tried the garage door. He finally went around to the back. And then opened the door and told the oldest to get his brothers and sisters in the house.

I peeked around one last time to try to make sure they were safe in the house, and I saw you there in the window. Not well, but I saw you. I was shocked. I honestly thought it was more feasible that there was no one there than that a mother that could sleep through the things I saw going on. You actually looked like we could be friends. You looked like someone who might take better care. I wanted you to be Cruella Deville.

Before I close this letter, I will thank you for one thing. You showed me today that being a mother has strengthened me in a way that I did not know. This shy, non-confrontational, scared-of-everything mother was able to push herself to try to manage a situation for the love of children. To try and help “the village.”

I hope someday you find motherhood to be as strengthening as I did. I will not be the friend who leads you to that path of strength. I could have been that friend, but I don’t have it in me now.


A Villager